Sunshine Cinema Office Building Replacement Damaged Nearby Homes, Suit Claims

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The construction of a Lower East Side office building on the site of the former Sunshine Cinema “significantly compromised the integrity” of a neighboring apartment property and forced the residents out of their homes, according to a lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court.

Residents of 210 Forsyth Street sued developer East End Capital, general contractor CM & Associates and a construction manager and engineer involved in the nine-story office building project at 137 to 143 East Houston Street, claiming its buildout caused 210 Forsyth to sink nearly an inch into the ground, according to a complaint filed Wednesday. 

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The tenants’ organization, 210 Forsyth Street Housing Development Fund Corporation, wants East End and CM to pay $2 million to cover damages and an unpaid licensing fee the developer allegedly promised residents.

CM, East End and lawyers for the tenants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It’s unclear if the property’s other developer, K Property Group, is still involved in the building. A spokesperson for K Property Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

East End and K Property Group bought the 100-year old building between Forsyth and Eldridge streets for $31.5 million in 2017, when it was home to the beloved Sunshine Cinema. The duo spent more than $100 million to demolish the theater and construct a new office and retail property in its wake, which got a temporary certificate of occupancy in June, according to the lawsuit and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) records.

The residents allowed East End and its contractors to access 210 Forsyth to watch for signs of damage while building the 65,000-square-foot development. In exchange, East End insured 210 Forsyth, paid a monthly $5,000 license fee and agreed to reimburse tenants for any issues, according to the suit.

But when East End started building the foundation in 2019, Forsyth Street Housing alleged that some of the five neighboring apartments began to show “widespread various interior and exterior cracks, gaps and other separations” thanks to East End’s “negligent and reckless” work.

The problems got so bad that some residents have been “unable to occupy their units as a result of the damaged conditions,” the suit alleged. 

The DOB has not issued a vacate order on 210 Forsyth, but did issue a stop-work order for the commercial property in November 2019 because of 210 Forsyth’s damage. East End resolved the violation and construction restarted in March 2020, according to public records.

Forsyth Street Housing also claimed that East End left it with the bill to fix the apartment building’s foundation, ignored tenants’ complaints and stopped paying the licensing fees to Forsyth Street Housing in September 2021, despite still using the residents’ property during construction, according to court documents. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.